Brendan O’Neill sneers again – this time at women resisting misogynist silencing campaigns.
One of the great curiosities of modern feminism is that the more radical the feminist is, the more likely she is to suffer fits of Victorian-style vapours upon hearing men use coarse language. Andrea Dworkin dedicated her life to stamping out what she called “hate speech” aimed at women. The Slutwalks women campaigned against everything from “verbal degradation” to “come ons”. And now, in another hilarious echo of the 19th-century notion that women need protecting from vulgar and foul speech, a collective of feminist bloggers has decided to “Stamp Out Misogyny Online”. Their deceptively edgy demeanour, their use of the word “stamp”, cannot disguise the fact that they are the 21st-century equivalent of Victorian chaperones, determined to shield women’s eyes and cover their ears lest they see or hear something upsetting.
Like this, he or the Telegraph helpfully illustrates:
Oh yes, that’s it exactly – we’re all falling over, because we’re so fragile and stupid.
Would even Brendan O’Neill sneer in quite such a contemptuous way if the issue were racism instead of misogyny? Would he (or the Telegraph) include a cartoon like that, mocking the very idea of disliking and resisting racism? I do him the credit to doubt that he would, and the discredit to point out that he has no business having different standards for women.
…the most striking thing about these fragile feminists’ campaign is the way it elides very different forms of speech. So the Guardian report lumps together “threats of rape”, which are of course serious, with “crude insults” and “unstinting ridicule”, which are not that serious. If I had a penny for every time I was crudely insulted on the internet, labelled a prick, a toad, a shit, a moron, a wide-eyed member of a crazy communist cult, I’d be relatively well-off.
He says, missing the point by a mile. A toad, a shit, a moron, are all generic. It’s interesting that he didn’t include any anti-Irish epithets, but even if he had, at this point in history they don’t have the bite that racist or homophobic or sexist ones do. (But I’m not Irish. Correct me if I’m wrong and they still have all the old bite.)
He prides himself on being a libertarian contrarian. That’s nice, but he doesn’t get to ignore reality to shore up his case. Being called a cunt is not the same kind of thing as being called a shit.
For better or worse, crudeness is part of the internet experience, and if you don’t like it you can always read The Lady instead.
He says, exemplifying the problem himself. Either you put up with being called a cunt every time you say anything or you have to go read something called “The Lady.” Why would those be the only choices? Why does Brendan O’Neill feel so comfortable letting his contempt for women show?
Muddying the historic philosophical distinction between words and actions, which has informed enlightened thinking for hundreds of years, is too high a price to pay just so some feminist bloggers can surf the web without having their delicate sensibilities riled.
Of course it is true that the standard of discussion on the internet leaves a lot to be desired. There is a remarkable amount of incivility and abusiveness on the web. But that is no excuse for attempting to turn the internet into the online equivalent of a Women’s Institute meeting, where no one ever raises their voice or “unstintingly ridicules” another or is crude. I would rather surf a web that caters for all, from the clever to the cranky, rather than put up with an internet designed according to the needs of a tiny number of peculiarly sensitive female bloggers.
More easy contempt – “their delicate sensibilities,” “a Women’s Institute meeting,” “peculiarly sensitive female bloggers.” And one of the tags on that piece is, incredibly – “wallflowers.”
It’s just unbelievable.